By Robin Gomes
As the new National Shrine of San Antonio de Padua of the Philippines was inaugurated this week, Pope Francis sent his greetings to the faithful hoping it will continue to be ‘a centre of constant missionary outreach’.
As San Pablo Diocese welcomed its first national shrine in the heritage town of Pila, in the Province of Laguna, the Holy Father said he was praying that devotees may all be renewed in the love of Christ”.
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), presided over the Mass for the declaration of the National Shrine of San Antonio de Padua on April 23.
“May the shrine truly be a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey and the centre of constant missionary outreach,” said the message of Pope Francis, read out during the Mass by Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia.
The CBCP had approved the petition to elevate the church’s status during its plenary assembly last January.
The declaration came 17 years after St. Anthony’s Church was declared a diocesan shrine in 2002.
St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church with novenas celebrations organized in numerous parishes across the world ahead of and on his June 13 feast. Traditionally, bread is blessed and distributed among the faithful on this day.
However, few know that St. Anthony was a native of Lisbon, Portugal, and not of the Italian city of Padua, where he died on June 13, 1231, and by which name he is known.
One of the best-known disciples of the great St. Francis of Assisi, Anthony was born on August 15, 1195, and baptized Fernando Martins de Bulhoes. His parents apparently belonged to one of the prominent families of the city.
Renowned for his powerful preaching, knowledge of scripture and love for the poor and the sick, the Franciscan priest and friar was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church and is regarded as the patron saint of lost things.
(VaticanNews e CBCPNews)